Collaboration and Social Media – Delivering Results

Collaboration and Social Media can become powerful assets in the IT arsenal to deliver business results. Social computing presents opportunities for IT to promote and support connections, both inside the organization - through technologies such as SharePoint, Jive, Yammer, wiki’s, blogs - and with external partners and customers through the use of online social media tools - LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.


The truth is that many companies struggle with where to start with social media and how to move forward. While you may perceive potential value in social media initiatives and pursue those initiatives accordingly, deriving that value and delivering results requires changes to how IT has been approached in the past. IT needs to consider moving away from conventional IT management approaches in several areas.


The key areas that will challenge organizations and need to be considered when initiating a focus on collaboration and social media include:
  • Unclear ROI — The business case for social computing typically breaks down because of the unclear nature of how and where social computing will deliver value and how the results will be recognized and measured. This is reminiscent of the history of determining an ROI for email. At that time, email was deployed with limited or no ROI.
  • Availability of Opportunity — The reality is that business units can often identify and exploit social media opportunities before IT. IT needs to sharpen it’s focus, become more aware of how the business partner views each opportunity and gather those requirements so that they are part of the solution.
  • Magnified Risk — Social media diminishes corporate perimeters and controls for information exchange, so organizations must “get over it" and determine a risk profile for social media (more on that later).
  • Consumer Technology Options — Business users may select technologies to connect and collaborate, which may not be corporate-controlled. The organization needs to determine its policies on technologies outside of its control.
  • Rapid Change — Velocity and complexity of social technologies outpace IT's roadmapping capabilities. To remain relevant in the social media conversation, IT organizations often rely on technology-centric "supply push" strategies, when instead they need to quickly understand and respond to "demand pull" from their end users.
Successful delivery of collaboration and social media solutions depend on four user-centric factors:
  1. Understand technology fit with end-user workflows and behavior. You need to map these out and create a view of the future. For example, IT teams are now adding visualization software to the agile process of development so that developers and business customers have a clearer picture of what will be delivered.
  2. Drive use by communicating tangible end-user benefits that can be directly connected to clear business metrics and outcomes (e.g. time saved). 
  3. Apply a risk framework that can evolve and improve as social media changes – set up 2-3 risk factors that will frame the focus on risk.
  4. Collaborate – as silly as this sounds, spend the time to collaborate with your business customer on a solution that will deliver results! Leverage proof of concept and pilots, as well as asking the business customer to come back with examples of functionality that may already be available and used by public social media groups today.
All of the above items need to considered, giving you the runway to avoid the pitfalls experienced by many social media projects.